Given the many reincarnations of this classic love story, the fact that Du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’ has never gone out of print is unsurprising. It is both an original and breathtaking novel of love, jealousy and hatred all revolving around the theme of the other woman. With descriptions of an unearthly depth that makes the character’s surroundings almost tangible, perhaps the most outstanding facet of this book is it’s heroine. The reader follows the journey of Maxim de Winter’s new, young wife as she adjusts to the majestic splendour of her new home in the infamous Manderley. Mrs de Winter, a former lady’s companion must settle into the new way of life in her overly large home and attempt to carve a niche for herself against the high expectations set for her by her predecessor of the book’s title.
Everything that Du Maurier conveys in the novel is eerily shrouded in memories of
Rebecca de Winter and her hold over the staff and occupants of Manderley. This was effectively demonstrated in Hitchcock’s film of Rebecca(1940), which truly encapsulates the haunted atmosphere and especially the evil demeanour of Mrs Danvers, Rebecca’s maid and Mrs de Winter’s most feared enemy.
Quite easily my favourite novel in existence. I’ve read it several times and since the very first the story has proved both captivating and ethereal. As a reader, the opportunity to be caught between the position of the unfortunate and naive Mrs de Winter and her malicious predecessor, is a rare and fabulous one. Although the conclusion is fantastical, the omnipresent power of Rebecca and Mrs Danvers proves to be one of the most well constructed stories of the twentieth century. An extraordinary novel for its time and well beyond, if you only read one book in your life from cover to cover, I would recommend Du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’.
All Rights Reserved © Copyright 2011 Michelle Lacey (Michelle Ní Láitheása).